HC Deb 09 February 1939 vol 343 cc1109-12
26. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider getting a tabulated statement showing what each local authority pays by way of public assistance to old age pensioners; what percentage of the rates for each area this represents; and the number and the cost for England and Wales?

Mr. Elliot

I do not think I should be justified in imposing on local authorities the labour and expense which the compilation of such a statement would involve.

Mr. Tinker

Is the Minister aware that this matter is causing great concern, and that hon. Members would like to know exactly what is being paid by local authorities in public assistance to old age pensioners, in view of the demand for an addition to the pension?

Mr. Elliot

There is much information which we should like to get from the local authorities, but the local authorities them selves resent the continuous increases in clerical duties which are imposed upon them.

Mr Buchanan

But is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that this question of old age pensions has now become a most acute political issue; and in view of that fact and the likelihood of controversy arising upon it, possibly at an Election, does he not think that it would be well for the House of Commons to have this information?

Mr. Elliot

I have given the matter consideration, and, so far, I do not think that I should be justified in calling for this information.

Mr. A. Jenkins

Is the Minister aware that the local authorities have already prepared this information, and that it is only a matter of communicating with them in order to obtain it?

Mr. Elliot

If the local authorities made representations to me, I should naturally give them consideration.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that the Kirkcaldy local authority is calling a conference on this question?

Mr. Jenkins

Was not the reason first given that it would impose too great a liability of labour upon the local authorities to supply this information; and now that the right hon. Gentleman knows that the local authorities have the information, will he take steps to see that it is supplied to the House?

Mr. Elliot

I simply said that I did not think I would be justified in imposing upon local authorities the labour of supplying the information.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Does the Minister not think that he would be justified in doing so, if only to disabuse the minds of hon. Members of the belief that he is afraid to do it?

31. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Health the number of old age pensioners in Wolverhampton, Wednesfield, and Willenhall who are in receipt of help from public assistance committees in order to supplement their pensions?

Mr. Elliot

On 1st January, 1939, the latest date for which particulars are available, there were 786 old age pensioners in Wolverhampton County Borough in receipt of poor relief. I am unable to furnish figures for Wednesfield and Willenhall, as the returns made to my Department of the number of persons in receipt of poor relief do not contain separate particulars for parts of an administrative county.

Mr. Mander

In view of the very large number of persons affected by this in Wolverhampton, would not the simplest plan be to increase the amount of old age pensions; and will the right hon. Gentleman be glad to consider that suggestion.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he obtained the information contained in his reply by applying to the local authority; if so, is there any difficulty in applying to other local authorities for the corresponding information from their areas; and in the event of hon. Members asking specific questions about specific local authorities will be obtain the information?

Mr. Gallacher

If the local authorities were as hard-hearted as the Government, what would happen?

38. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered a resolution from Atherton Urban District Council asking for an increase in the rate of old age pensions and spinsters', widows', and orphans' pensions; and how many similar resolutions he has had from other local authorities?

Mr. Elliot

I have received the resolution to which the hon. Member refers, and consideration is being given to it. Thirty-one similar resolutions have been received from other local authorities.

Mr. Tinker

When may we expect a decision from the right hon. Gentleman when he has considered it?

Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte

Can my right hon. Friend say what the cost will be?

Mr. Paling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that an overwhelming number of people are now of the opinion that the time is ripe for an increase in old age pensions, and will he take active steps to put it into operation?

41. Mr. Markham

asked the Minister of Health what is the number of old age pensioners in the City of Nottingham; and how many of these are in receipt of Poor Law relief?

Mr. Elliot

I regret that the information asked for in the first part of the question is not available, as the records of pensioners are not kept on a territorial basis. On 1st January, 1939, the number of old age pensioners in receipt of poor relief in Nottingham was 2,816.

Mr. Markham

Can my right hon. Friend say what would be approximately the nearest area for which figures would be available?

Mr. Elliot

Not without notice.

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